The Top 5 Smallest Protein Skimmers

Posted by Miles Harrison on 11/22/2022

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Protein skimmers are something every saltwater hobbyist should have in their arsenal. These tools do an excellent job of removing fish waste and uneaten food, resulting in fewer water changes. The purifying effect of protein skimmers creates a more stable environment for your aquarium inhabitants, and they even help oxygenate the water.

Most aquarists won’t go without a protein skimmer in larger tanks, but what about hobbyists that have nano aquariums where space is much more limited? In this post, we’re going to recommend 5 excellent options for those looking for the smallest protein skimmers around.

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Types of Small Protein Skimmers

Protein skimmers typically come in one of two potential configurations. They’ll either be internal skimmers, which integrate into your sump, or they’ll be external, that can hang on the back of an aquarium. They both have unique advantages and disadvantages.

External protein skimmers are great if you’re limited in space. Although they’re known to be a bit noisier, they’re a great option if you plan on expanding your aquarium setup in the future. If they overflow, it will most likely be much messier than an internal protein skimmer, but this is typically not a common occurrence.

Internal protein skimmers overflow directly into your sump and tend to be more power efficient. They’re much quieter, but they’ll take up much more space in your stand. They also typically require a specific water depth to be met.

Image of a Protein Skimmer
Protein skimmers improve water quality

Our Top 5 Recommendations

Typically, you’ll see external protein skimmers in larger aquarium systems. But that’s not always the case! Some of the smallest protein skimmers in the saltwater aquarium hobby are external

Here are some of our favorites.

Reef Glass Nano Skimmer

The Nano Skimmer by Reef Glass is an excellent option for hobbyists looking to add an external protein skimmer to their nano aquarium. This skimmer is great for aquariums that are no larger than 30 gallons.

It’s worth noting that you’ll need to also purchase an air pump to operate this skimmer. The Tetra Whisper would suit well here.

What we like about the Reef Glass Nano Skimmer

  • 3-month warranty

  • Includes a plastic mount

  • Made from durable Pyrex glass

  • Easy to adjust with the included O-ring

Eshopps In-Sump Nano Protein Skimmer

Eshopps, a California-based brand that has recently gone global, specializes in acrylic aquarium equipment, so it’s no surprise that they offer the In-Sump Nano Protein Skimmer . This skimmer is great for aquariums that are up to 35 gallons in size.

Since this is an internal skimmer, you’ll have to maintain a consistent water level. Here’s what we like about this skimmer:

  • Features a magnetic side mounting system

  • Includes a collection cup for easy waste removal

  • Small size, only 4.5” inches in height and 2.25” inches in width

  • Eco-efficient consumes only 6 watts of power

Fluval Sea Mini Protein Skimmer

Most aquarists have heard of Fluval, a Massachusetts-based aquarium company that’s been around since the 1970s. With tons of experience in filtration, Fluval’s Sea Mini is an excellent option for aquariums between 5-20 gallons in size.

This external skimmer specializes in creating perfectly sized bubbles and includes a suction cup and bracket mounting system.

Highlights include:

  • Adjustable flow regulators

  • Large reaction chamber

  • Includes a 3-year limited warranty

  • Quiet after making adjustments

IceCap K1 Nano Protein Skimmer

This Charleston, South Carolina-based aquarium business has been around for decades, and they specialize in pumps and filtration systems. Their K1 Nano Protein Skimmer is an excellent option for aquariums of up to 30 gallons.

We love the appearance of this skimmer, and at only 13 inches in height and 3 inches in width, it won’t take up a ton of space.

Here are some of the best parts about this skimmer:

  • Made from PVC and high-quality acrylic

  • Includes IceCap’s DCair 200 skimmer pump

  • Quiet operation

  • Splash-resistant

Hydor Slim Skim Nano

Hydor, a company founded in Italy that’s been around since 1984 offers the Slim Skim Nano. This internal skinner works well for aquariums up to 65 gallons and comes in a translucent container.

The Slim Skim is highly energy efficient and uses only 4 watts of power. Airflow can be controlled by a small cap that’s placed on the top of the skimmer.

Other highlights include:

  • Mounting via magnetic suction cups

  • Powered by an efficient patented impeller

  • Easy to assemble and disassemble

  • Ships with pre-assembled feeding and skimming pumps


The benefits of owning a protein skimmer are undeniable. These devices will make your life much easier, and you’ll be able to spend more time thinking about the next fish for your nano tank instead of worrying about water changes.

Now that we’ve gone over the smallest protein skimmers around, which one do you think you’ll go with? If you have had an experience with one of these skimmers before, we’d love to hear about it! Visit our community forum where we discuss everything related to fish keeping.

Ashley Briggs

Miles Harrison

With over a decade of aquarium experience, Miles can be found writing about saltwater and freshwater aquariums. When he’s not writing about fish, you can find him going for a run or building websites, such as this one!